A joint water safety appeal has been launched by the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend.
The organisations are urging the public to be mindful of cold water shock, with water temperatures remaining “very cold” at this time of year. Anyone entering the water is advised to acclimatise to the temperature slowly, be it coastal or inland.
New residents and visitors to the island – particularly from Ukraine – have also been welcomed and encouraged to seek local advice before engaging in any water or coastal activities, as many will be unfamiliar with Irish tides and sea conditions.
Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheál O’Toole said having some basic water safety knowledge “could make an enormous difference and even save a life” as many take the opportunity of the Easter long weekend to visit the coast.
“People need to be mindful that the water is very cold at this time of year, and it is easy to be caught out by tides,” he said.
“We extend a special welcome to members of the Ukrainian community, and we are mindful that they may be unfamiliar with Irish tides and local currents. We would encourage the wider public to be mindful of this risk and be alert to people recreating in unsuitable areas, especially in areas that can become isolated with changing tidal conditions.”
Water Safety Ireland’s acting chief executive Roger Sweeney said Easter is a time when many people enjoy their first swim of the year, “but lifeguards have not yet started the patrols that rescue hundreds every season.”
“Swim with others and keep it short, pay attention to local authority signs, and help to keep Ukrainians in your community safe by prompting them to the translated advice at www.watersafety.ie/ukraine,” he said.
RNLI water safety lead Kevin Rahill reminded those who fall in unexpectedly to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. “Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby,” he said.
“For visitors and people new to our shores, the RNLI have a range of translated safety resources in many languages which are available to download at https://rnli.org/safety/multi-lingual-resources.”
If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:
- Always check the weather and tides
- Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm (ie a phone or VHF radio)
- Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
- Wear a suitable Personal Flotation Device on the water
- Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off
If you are swimming:
- Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year, so consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm
- Acclimatise slowly
- Wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase your visibility
- Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by someone
If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 112 or use VHF radio CH 16 and ask for the Coast Guard.